The term ‘pocket rocket’ gets flung around a lot when it comes to hot hatches. However, Audi may now have staked its claim on the phrase with the unveiling of the 231 bhp S1 and S1 Sportback quattro models.
EngageSportMode is already a fan of the Audi A1, naming it as the best car we drove back in 2012. We also loved the gorgeous LHD-only A1 Quattro special edition, despite its £40,000 price tag making it an expensive way to have a 256 bhp supermini. Fortunately, Ingolstadt has now decided to combine the best of both worlds; offering the new S1 quattro with a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 231 bhp, and 273 lb-ft of torque, for a far more reasonable sum of money.
£24,900 is all you’ll need to get yourself behind that flat-bottomed steering wheel in the 3-door S1 quattro. Prices for the 5-door Sportback start at £25,630 which is still a lot for a fairly small car we must admit. But, being capable off 0-62 mph in 5.8 seconds and 155 mph go a long way to making the baby S-car worth the money. Oh, and there’s the way it looks which, in our eyes, easily justifies the rest of the asking price.
Audi is making a big deal of the S1 Sportback, with this eye-catching Vegas Yellow (a new colour, along with Sepang Blue from the R8 supercar) example hogging much of the press picture limelight. It does look tough, with the black styling pack applied to the grille and front splitter; aluminium look trim for is available too. We’re undecided on whether a car this small really needs four exhaust tailpipes, although from the video we’ve seen they do at least sound good! EngageSportMode does approve of the ‘quattro’ side graphics, and dual rear spoiler which come fitted as part of the optional exterior styling package. The gloss black rear panel surrounding the number plate from the A1 Quattro makes a welcome appearance, adding visual clout alongside new LED tail lights.
17″ wheels comes as standard, with 18″ ones on the extensive options list, with bigger 310 mm disc brakes doing the grabbing up front. Audi claims to have tweaked the electromechanical power steering to make it sportier, along with adding a multilink rear suspension which is more advanced than the regular A1’s torsion beam setup. All of this bodes well for the S1 being genuinely fun on the road, rather than just another quick but soulless fast Audi.
VAG seems to have listened to enthusiasts wishes, offering the car with a manual six-speed gearbox rather than a DSG dual-clutch affair. Being connected to a quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system, with an electronically controlled locking rear differential, should hopefully mean that famous Audi traction is matched with a degree of excitability on demand. The fact the two-stage ESC stability control can be complexly deactivated means Ingolstadt is offering up some hoonigan action if required. Hurrah! We’re also hoping the standard Audi Drive Select system – which offers a range of settings for the suspension dampers, climate control and throttle response – will come with a sport mode option!
On the inside the S1 mixes regular Audi restraint with the option of gloss black, red or yellow accents for the centre console. Big sport seats with integrated headrests and painted backrests are also available as an option, whilst stainless steel pedals come as standard. Electronic climate control, a single CD radio with iPod connection, 6.5-inch retractable colour display, and Bluetooth connectivity also come fitted from the factory. In short (wheelbase) the S1 quattro isn’t cheap, but the performance and kit count go someway to making sense of that tall price tag.
Whilst it may not quite be the original S1 quattro reincarnated – that being the mental flame-spitting 1980’s Group B rally car – there’s an awful lot to like about this hot hatch. If Audi can make the S1 as fun to drive as its specification and looks promise, this really could be one of the performance cars of the year. Or failing that, perhaps the Volkswagen Polo R version will be. Either way, when deliveries start in the Spring, the world is going to be a better place with pocket-sized tearaways like this on the road. We can’t wait.
Specs: S1 quattro (Sportback in brackets)
Engine: 2.0 litre TFSI
Power: 231 bhp
Torque: 273 lb-ft
0-62 mph: 5.8 secs (5.9 secs)
Top Speed: 155 mph
Economy: 40.3 mpg combined (39.8 mpg)
CO2: 162 g/km (166 g/km)
OTR Price: £24,900 (£25,630)
More Info: Audi.co.uk